Gary Katz Named Director of CTO

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless was a program of the Cleveland Tenants Organization while NEOCH struggled in the late 1990s.  We would not be in existence if it was not for the Spencer Wells and CTO Board extending a hand up to NEOCH.  They are one of the most critical services in our community to balance the relationship between landlords and tenants.  They are a loud voice in pushing the preservation and development of affordable housing, and they help prevent homelessness locally.  CTO is a unique organization in the United States and needs to be fully supported as an essential service.  Today, the CTO Board announced that they have hired a new Executive Director.

On behalf of the Cleveland Tenants Organization Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce the hiring of Gary R. Katz as Executive Director effective March 1st, 2017.  Gary comes to Cleveland Tenants Organization from his current position as Mediation Officer and Deputy Bailiff with Cleveland Housing Court.  Gary brings extensive experience in mediation, landlord tenant relations, community issues, and program management from his 11 years with Cleveland Housing Court, his work with Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation and his time with private and non-profit mediation firms.   During the month of March, Interim Executive Director Marie Kittredge will be staying on as consultant to assure a smooth transition. Please join us in welcoming Gary Katz to the CTO family!

Gary has worked with NEOCH to help with our Housing 101 workshops and is a regular presenter at the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meetings on behalf of the Court.

Brian Davis

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Evictions Level for Last Year

The February Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting featured a look at evictions with Cleveland Housing Court staff and the new director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization.  Magistrate David Roberts and Housing Specialist Robert Fuches provided an overview of the court and trends that they have seen over the last year.  The Cleveland Housing Court has a great number of resources available for the community, and those facing eviction in Cleveland have a much easier time compared to those facing an eviction in the suburban municipal courts in Cleveland Hts. or Berea for example.  The most alarming trend was that the magistrates and the housing court officials have noticed an increase in seniors who are facing an eviction. They attributed this to the downturn and the fact that many seniors on fixed incomes took relatives in during the economic crisis.  Then any change in the income of a family or the expenses destabilizes the entire household. 

The number of evictions have remained steady over the last three years especially with the rental assistance dollars available through the federal stimulus program.  Over 90% of evictions are due to non-payment of rent.  The Cleveland Housing Court has a great mediation program to work out agreements between landlords and tenants, but when the tenant does not have money it is almost impossible to avoid an eviction.  We had a lengthy discussion about evictions and management decisions about when to evict.  Another negative trend was the sharp decline in rental deposits being made against landlords.  It could be that landlords were more honorable and took care of maintenance issues quickly but I suspect that there were other reasons.  The number of forcible move outs rose in 2012 by 15% over 2011 figures.  Before 2012 forcible move outs had been on the steady decline. These are individuals who have no where else to go and have no money to store their items.  These individuals will most likely end up in the shelters. 

Angela Shuckahosee, the Executive Director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization also presented by walking through the CTO annual report.  CTO saw a 10% decline in the number of people that they sent mail or reached out to on the phone between 2011 and 2012.  But the number of people who contacted the agency increased between 2011 and 2012 with 45% of the callers coming from Cleveland.  The median income and median rent remained steady for the people who contacted CTO at $700 per month and rent at $475 in both 2011 and 2012.   Angela described their work on bedbugs and problems with master metering, and tenants waiting too long to start to put their rent in escrow.   There was also a discussion about the changes taking place at Lupica Apartments in Cleveland. 

Brian Davis

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